Always much appreciated, David Hathaway-Price continues his incredible mission to provide an amazing digital archive of British comics fandom on his fantastic ClassicUKComicsZines site.
Just added is Fantasy Advertiser International #53, edited by Dez Skinn and published in 1974, featuring a cover by Dave Gibbons (admittedly, perhaps, not his best for the title, but it’s certainly dramatic!).
The choice kung fu as a cover theme shouldn’t be a surprise – interest in the martial art was at a perhaps all-time high, spurred by the success of Enter the Dragon just a year earlier starring Bruce Lee, with Marvel quickly jumping on the band wagon with its new Master of Kung Fu title, its sales no doubt buoyed by the success of the Kung Fu TV series starring David Carradine.
(By the end of 1974, even the BBC had picked up on the trend, with Steptoe and Son ruthlessly poking fun at it in the wonderful “The Seven Steptoerai”, transferring the drama of The Seven Samurai, with kung fu thrown in to London – specifically Shepherd’s Bush).
Inside the issue, crammed largely with classified ads, events promotions and plugs for Dez Skinn-initiated products (including his upcoming, original iteration of Warrior, a different beast to the one we remember) there’s also a look at Kung Fu in US comics by Martin Lock. Noting the success of Judo Master in the 1960s, he hopes Master of Kung Fu, then written by Steve Englehart, will be a success. He certainly got his wish! Alan Booth also provides a look at the TV series, noting how the finale of its original run on ITV was dampened by power cuts in parts of the country, to the outrage of many of the show’s millions of British fans.
It’s Dez Skinn himself who highlights Britain’s Kung Fu-inspired strips and comics of the day in his editorial, briefly pouring scorn on MarvelUK’s own Master of Kung Fu comic. He also mentions, among others, the brilliant Look-In strip based on the TV series, then drawn by Martin Asbury. This issue of Fantasy Advertiser features a portfolio section that includes a wonderful study of Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine by Asbury himself, and a marvellous strip, “Samurai”, by Angus McKie.
As usual, my favourite part of the zine is “Battlefield”, the ever entertaining letters page, with letters this time from a certain future 2000AD editor, Alan McKenzie, accusing Fantasy Advertiser’s success of causing back issue comic prices to escalate; plus letters from future comics
My favourite, however, has to be this letter from Brian Mills, of Newcastle, confirming, surely, that the concept of “troll posts” is far from an internet-only past time.
Quite why someone who hated comics so much bothered to even write it, presumably someone who would be unlikely to even look for their letter in print, is a mystery…
First published in 1965, Fantasy Advertiser is one of British comic fandom’s best-known zines, continued online today at comiczine-fa.com.
• Fantasy Advertiser International #53 By Dez Skinn – August 1974 | Cover by Dave Gibbons | Artwork by Martin Asbury, Keith Robson, Steve Parkhouse, Angus McKie, Denis Lee, Paul Gulacy, and Warren Statler
• Available free to read online from ClassicUKComicsZines | Fantasy Advertiser Section here (do note the WIX-based delivery can make the archive a bit fiddly to navigate on older tablets)